New Jersey Devils Game 35 Preview: vs Columbus Blue Jackets

BOSTON, MA - JANUARY 04: Boston Bruins center Trent Frederic (11) battles New Jersey Devils center Jack Hughes (86) for the puck during a game between the Boston Bruins and the New Jersey Devils on January 4, 2022, at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The New Jersey Devils return home to take on the Columbus Blue Jackets in the first game of a home-and-home.

Tale of the Tape:

Record: 13-16-5 (31 points, 7th in Metro)

The Opponent: Columbus Blue Jackets (15-15-1) – FHN Blog: The Cannon Blast

Puckdrop: 7:00 PM ET

Venue: Prudential Center

Expected Goaltenders: Mackenzie Blackwood (8-7-3) vs. Joonas Korpisalo (3-5-0)

Television Broadcasts: MSG+, BSOH

Columbus Blue Jackets

The Blue Jackets have allowed seven goals in consecutive games as their goaltending has disappeared as of late. In their game on New Year’s Day against the Carolina Hurricanes, Columbus started off hot as they jumped out to a 4-0 lead about halfway through the game. They then allowed seven straight goals to drop the game 7-4.

There most recent game was a 7-2 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday. A three-goal first period was all the Lightning needed to get the victory over Columbus.

Columbus was supposed to have a more than serviceable goaltending pairing in Elvis Merzļlikins and Joonas Korpisalo this season. Having allowed 44 goals in their last 10 games, the weak play in the crease has been their downfall during this stretch.

The Blue Jackets will turn back to Korpisalo for tonight’s game. The 27-year-old goaltender returned to the crease on Tuesday for the first time since December 19 and allowed 7 goals on 36 shots. Korpisalo carries an 3-5-0 record with a 4.14 GAA and .881 save percentage into tonight.

All-star defenseman Zach Werenski remains out of tonight’s game as he’s in the NHL’s Covid-19 protocol.

New Jersey Devils

New Jersey lost their most recent game because of poor goaltending. Mackenzie Blackwood struggled mightily against the Boston Bruins on Tuesday allowing five goals, including three that should have been stopped by the presumed franchise goaltender. While Blackwood is playing through a heel injury, better performances will be needed if New Jersey hopes to crawl back into the wild card race.

Tonight marks an opportunity for the Devils to beat a team directly ahead of them in the standings. New Jersey must take notes from the Blue Jackets’ most recent losses and throw everything they can at the net. Korpisalo needs to have a busy night if New Jersey has any plans on winning the game.

Blackwood will be in net tonight as he makes his fifth consecutive start. The 25-year-old goalie has played poorly since his shutout over the Philadelphia Flyers on December 8 posting a .861 save percentage in seven games.

Nico Hischier will return to the lineup tonight after missing Tuesday’s game with a lower-body injury. However, forward Andreas Johnsson will miss tonight’s game as he has entered the NHL’s Covid-19 protocol. With forward Jimmy Vesey out of protocol, Johnsson joins Yegor Sharangovich and Pavel Zacha as the only Devils out due to Covid-19.

Player to Watch: Nolan Foote

Nolan Foote will make his season debut tonight for New Jersey. Foote has spent the year with the Utica Comets of the AHL and has four goals and six assists in 22 games this season. This will be Foote’s second stint with the team as he played six games with the big club last season recording one goal and one assist.

Foote uses his size to the dirty areas, most specifically the front of the net, and effects the goaltender’s ability to make clean saves. Expect the big 21-year-old to see some time with Dawson Mercer and Alex Holtz. The trio of rookies got some playing time together during the 2021 Prospects Challenge and in the preseason.

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